Drug or alcohol detox is the first step in any addiction treatment plan. It is the short period of time, usually 3 to 10 days, during which you rid your body of its physical dependence on drugs or alcohol.
Detox isn’t as simple as just stopping use of a substance. It is a challenging, and sometimes dangerous, process that is most successful with professional support. If you or a loved one is looking to begin addiction treatment, we highly recommend you plan to detox in a residential treatment center, not at home. During your detoxification, you can expect:
An Initial Assessment
When you first arrive at a treatment center, a nurse or other medical professional will ask you many questions about your substance use and history of use. Remember, there is no judgment at a treatment center. Please answer all questions as honestly as possible. Your medical team will use your answers to design a detox program that is safe and effective for you.
After a tour of the facilities, you’ll receive a physical exam that may include blood or urine tests. During this exam, a physician is checking for any underlying conditions that may make detox more dangerous, such as a heart problem or dehydration. Your medical team will be sure to care for these problems, too.
Once your assessment is done, withdrawal can begin. You will likely stay in your room, in your bed during withdrawal. As time goes on, withdrawal may become more severe. Your team will encourage you to eat and drink whenever possible during withdrawal to help you stay healthy. You may feel all you can do is try to sleep as the symptoms of withdrawal begin.
Symptoms of Withdrawal
The longer you go without using a substance, the more your brain will begin react. Your brain has become dependent on the presence of that substance to function and can producing stressful hormones, like adrenaline, when it doesn’t get that substance.
Your brain’s reaction can cause a variety of withdrawal symptoms, including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart palpitations or a racing heart
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle shakes or weakness
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
Some drugs, like marijuana or cocaine, cause fewer of these symptoms because they cause less physical dependence. Other substances, like alcohol or opioids, can cause serious and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms because your body is heavily dependent on them. Dangerous withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Heart attacks
Receiving medically assisted detox is vital if you use these substances. Your medical team can help manage or prevent these withdrawal symptoms. They strive to keep you as safe and comfortable as possible throughout your detoxification.
In the State of California, addiction treatment centers need to have Incidental Medical Services (IMS) certified to provide medicines to help you detox safely from drugs. If you detox at a center that is not IMS-certified, you may have to be transferred to a hospital if serious withdrawal symptoms occur.
However, when you are at an IMS-certified facility, you will have a team of professionals monitoring your health and helping keep you as safe and comfortable as possible. Your team can create a plan for medically assisted detox and provide the care you need right there int the facility. (In the rare instance that heart attack or stroke does occur, you will be taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital for emergency care).
Your plan may include medicines that ease withdrawal symptoms. For instance, if you abuse alcohol, you may use benzodiazepines or carbamazepine. You may get these medicines at fixed times every day or only when your symptoms show up. These medicines help wean your brain off of alcohol, reducing your risk for serious withdrawal symptoms and making detox easier.
You may also receive drugs to help stop or lessen cravings. You may use these throughout detox and even after detox is over to help maintain your sobriety.
A Post Detox Plan
After three to 10 days, your withdrawal symptoms will begin to ease. You will have more energy and may require fewer medicines to control symptoms. At this point, you may begin other therapies to help you stay sober.
In many ways, this time after detox is the most vital. After the medical portion of withdrawal is complete, it’s time for you to lay the foundation for long-term sobriety. You may stay in the residential treatment facility for another few weeks or switch to intensive outpatient therapy to receive the support you need.
During this time, you are creating new habits and improving your abilities to handle cravings, stress, or other triggers of substance use. You may participate in therapies such as:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy to learn coping skills
- Group therapy to receive support from others on the road to recovery
- Family therapy to improve family dynamics that may contribute to relapse
- Individual psychotherapy to discuss the emotional aspects of substance abuse
Together, these therapies give you the tools you need to remain abstinent. It is vital you continue to participate in these therapies long after your drug or alcohol detox is over.
At Harmony Place, we provide incidental medical services, medically assisted detox, long-term residential care, therapy and more to help you achieve abstinence. In addition to our residential facility, we offer outpatient services and alumni program so you can continue to receive care even after your return home. We are with you throughout your addiction treatment journey to help improve your chances of success.
Take the first step toward a sober life now by calling 1-888-789-4330 at any time day or night. Visit our Los Angeles Detox Center to learn more.